When the merry spring time weaves Its peeping bloom and dewy leaves; When the primrose opes its eye, And the young moth flutters by; When the plaintive turtle dove Pours its notes of peace and love; And the clear sun flings its glory bright and wide— Yet, my soul will own More joy in winter's frown, And wake with warmer flush at Christmas tide. The summer beams may shine On the rich and curling vine, And the noon-tide rays light up The tulip's dazzling cup: But the pearly misletoe And the holly-berries' glow Are not even by the boasted rose outvied; For the happy hearts beneath The green and coral wreath Love the garlands that are twined at Christmas tide. Let the autumn days produce Yellow corn and purple juice, And Nature's feast be spread In the fruitage ripe and red; ’Tis grateful to behold Gushing grapes and fields of gold, When cheeks are brown'd and red lips deeper dyed: But give, oh! give to me The winter night of glee, The mirth and plenty seen at Christmas tide. The northern gust may howl, The rolling storm-cloud scowl, King Frost may make a slave Of the river's rapid wave, The snow-drift choke the path, Or the hail-shower spend its wrath; But the sternest blast right bravely is defied, While limbs and spirits bound To the merry minstrel sound, And social wood-fires blaze at Christmas tide. The song, the laugh, the shout, Shall mock the storm without; And sparkling wine-foam rise ’Neath still more sparkling eyes; The forms that rarely meet Then hand to hand shall greet, And soul pledge soul that leagues too long divide. Mirth, friendship, love, and light Shall crown the winter night, And every glad voice welcome Christmas tide. But while joy's echo falls In gay and plenteous halls, Let the poor and lowly share The warmth, the sports, the fare; For the one of humble lot Must not shiver in his cot, But claim a bounteous meed from wealth and pride. Shed kindly blessings round, Till no aching heart be found; And then all hail to merry Christmas tide!
This poem appeared in Melaia and Other Poems (Charles Tilt, 1840). It is in the public domain.
Eliza Cook was born on December 24, 1818, in London, England. Self-educated as a child, she began writing poems at the age of fifteen and published her first poetry collection, Lays of a Wild Harp: A Collection of Metrical Pieces (John Bennett, 1835), two years later. Cook also published poems in magazines such as Metropolitan Magazine, New Monthly Magazine, and Weekly Dispatch, which published her most popular poem, “The Old Arm-Chair.”
In 1838, Cook published her second collection, Melaia and Other Poems, which was well received in both England and America, where an edition was reissued in 1844, and followed by Poems, Second Series (Simpkin, Marshall, 1845) and New Echoes, and Other Poems (Routledge, Warne & Routledge, 1864). Known as a poet of the working class, Cook wrote poems that advocated for political freedom for women and addressed questions of class and social justice. Despite her popularity, she was criticized for the ways in which she bucked gender conventions in both her writing and her life; Cook wore male clothing and had a relationship with American actress Charlotte Cushman, to whom she addressed a number of her poems.
In 1849, Cook started a penny-biweekly called Eliza Cook’s Journal, which contained poems, reviews, and social essays written mostly by her for a female audience. She continued the publication until 1854. Plagued by bad health in the last years of her life, Cook published little; she died on September 23, 1889, in Wimbledon, England.
New Echoes, and Other Poems (Routledge, Warne & Routledge, 1864)
Poems, Second Series (Simpkin, Marshall, 1845)
Melaia and Other Poems (J. and H. G. Langley, 1844)
Lays of a Wild Harp: A Collection of Metrical Pieces (John Bennett, 1835)
Date Published: 2017-12-07
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/christmas-tide